“We are confident we can build everything up to ocean liners
and in fifty years time people will look back at boats of the
20th Century and they’ll say “where are the wings”?”
– Dr Robert Dane, CEO, Solar Sailor
Imagine a boat powered by the sun. Unlike the wind, which comes and goes with unpredictable ferocity, the sun makes a fairly easily scheduled appearance most days. Add wind power as a concentrated burst of energy when the sun doesn’t necessarily shine, and you’ve got a luxury ride. It simultaneously looks like a subway train and a transformer: it isn’t the lofty elegance of an old galleon, but it makes a fashion statement nonetheless!
The Sun Sailor has won numerous award for its intriguing design. It simply makes sense to marry the sun and sailing, and takes place under some of the least obstructed skies on earth. And there’s some big name support. The leader of the company is an ex-prime minister of Australia, and recently Solar Sailor was awarded a contract with the US navy developing unmanned vehicles.
Visit the Solar Sailor site here
It’s official: at least one city in the United States has finally ponied up for a wind powered station that will meet the entire city’s needs. Meet Rock Port, Missouri, poised to take that trophy home for America. Fortunately situated near a bluff and with a windy enough climate to sustain a projected 16 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, Missourans are about to get a healthy does of green in their power mix. Annual consumption has historically only been around 13 gigwatt hours, so that power company will also be able to sell power across the grid to other places, as well as to supply electrical power when winds are down. With this year’s tornado season as evidence, I don’t think that will be happening too often!
For more information, look up Loess Hill Wind Farm, the company pairing with the government to provide this service.
More Information on joining the BioTour here
If you’ve been looking for an inexpensive way to spend a week of vacation while still contributing to a great cause, how about taking part in BioTour’s journey across America? Biotour is a big school bus, converted to run on WVO (biodiesel) and solar energy. A rotating cast of characters pilot the bus across the country making presentations to school children and politicians alike about the importance of renewable energy in our lives. Along the way, crew members educate themselves about the deeds and processes of progressive companies and towns across the nation.
You can stay with the crew for up to a week for a suggested donation of $0-$100 dollars, a good CD of music to share, and some snacks for everyone. They aren’t running an alt-travel agency, so you’re signing up to be part of the crew, slinging grease and working on broken parts alongside everyone else. The past tour dates have included some impressive stops, and many interesting ones in between: it’s safe to say your week will be unlike any other that’s transpired in the past. So pack up your backpack and hit the greyhound station to meet them along they way for a week of french-fried country education and fun.
If the intricacies of setting up a home solar solution have you flummoxed, you may be looking for an out-of-the-box solution for your energy needs. It’s not exactly portable (unless you own a forklift!), but the PowerCube 600 Energy system is just that… a box that you simply open and start harvesting light energy. Visit the PowerCube site for pictures of the cube being set up to appreciate how easy it really is. The site and technology appear to be young, but the promise of a standalone power system in a box can hardly be overstated.
From what I can see, the box has a variety of power outs so that you can hook up various devices to the unit. And the site claims that you can increase your energy output by daisy chaining multiple units together, providing enough for off-grid applications and primary power-source situations. I like the box design, it looks sturdy and easy to ship, given its size, and it seems like a good fit for programs that offer solar power to remote communities across the globe. I haven’t been able to access the spec sheet yet, but the maker’s site, a yacht building company, shows the product in more operative detail. All from Reluminati, an eco-concious design lab that sports several lines of solar powered products. Be the first on your block to sever your ties to the grid when the PowerCube rolls off the assembly line this summer.
Read More about NanoSolar’s breakthrough here
PopSci’s Best of What’s New 2007
NanoSolar has long been a favorite of mine for their commitment to producing inexpensive solar cells with more durable materials than traditional solar cells. They have funding from some of the biggest names in the business world, which probably explains why they haven’t had to go public yet. When they do, I’m going to be standing in line (probably a long one!) to get stock. Their PowerSheet technology, printed in a process similar to running a newspaper press, recently snagged Best of 2007 honors in Popular Science’s annual contest (see a nice Flash demonstration of the technology at the link above).
The most exciting news is that the NanoSolar process has been officially declared cheaper then coal. That means there’s no excuse not to own some of these panels once they come off the production line in 2008. The first commercially produced line of panels were auctioned off, sent to the Smithsonian, used in power plant settings, and other socialy important applications. But NanoSolar for the masses appears to be just around the corner. Keep an eye on this!
I so need one of these! Oh, wait, no grass to mow. But you probably have some, and just look at this beauty! At $4,000, it’s no yard-sale find, but with built-in sensors that detect yard obstacles, it reduces the amount of work you have to do down to simply setting the thing out and turning it on. Swimming devotees will recognize this approach as like that of the pool Simon, and it also falls close to the Roomba technology. And of course, like many products featured here, it’s totally powered by the sun. With one of these and a few free hours to watch it wander, you might actually be HAPPY when your spouse tells you to mow the lawn!
BSWT is a vertical wind turbine based on sailing engineering. The wind rotor is rotated by two spiral-formed vanes. For best performance, these vanes are covered in solar cells, so that sun and wind produce electricity as one element. The BSWT installation costs relatively little, produces no noise or significant shadowing, can be easily maintained from ground level, and is an attractive addition to any home.
from the Bluenergy AG website.